The original idea of this blog

I’d like to take a moment and welcome any and all new readers of this blog. I’m happy you’re here, and I’m looking forward to spirited discussions on issues of science and public health. At this time, I’d like to remind everyone to read the About section and the Commenting Policy as well. I know that some of the topics discussed are very serious and capable of making a person very passionate and even angry. Nevertheless, let’s try to keep it civil, that we may communicate better.

That said, I’d also like to point out to you the original idea of this blog. I originally started writing a short story titled “The Poxes.” The story is all drafted on paper and pretty much concluded in my head. I have just been slow in committing it to the web because I want something that is meaningful and good, though I still think it’s not as polished as it could be. So, if you want to read that story so far, I invite you to click on The Poxes Story page atop this blog.

Other than that, I’d like to wish a Happy Easter, Passover, and/or Sunday to everyone.

New blog location, same blog

Hello, everybody! Welcome to the WordPress version of “The Poxes Blog.” Blogger just wasn’t cutting it for me when it came to blogging. It’s a nice platform, but WordPress just overtook it and left it behind a long time ago. So here we are. Isn’t this blog prettier? I also have more control over the content. So expect the same types of blog posts from me, but with added functionality… Especially when I scrape up the cash to pay for the “pro” version of wordpress. But that’s for later.

NVIC: Information that’s not information, the return

Not a lot of time today. There are a lot of things happening too fast for me to properly juggle all of them AND keep you informed. So I’m turning it over to a friend of the blog, Mr. Todd, to tell you all about the latest from the National Vaccine (mis)Information Center and the “information” they want you to believe.

Go read his post here. It’s worth it, and it’s worth taking some action.

Congrats to a friend

A close friend of the blog has been accepted into a doctoral program at an institution of higher learning on the east coast. I’d like to give you all the details, but there are lurkers about who would like nothing more than to bother or bully him about it. If you know who I’m talking about, then you’ll know where to find him and congratulate him.

That’s all. Carry on. Nothing else to see here, for now.

When the chips are down

There are two lines of reasoning when it comes to major disasters. One states that, when the chips are down, humans will revert to behaving like animals and survival of the fittest will morph into survival of the strongest. (Strongest are not always the fittest. Not when it comes to humans.) Basically, we get the world where Mad Max exists and law and order have disappeared and get replaced with brute force and odd alliances.

The other line of reasoning is one where we all stick together to try to get over the disaster and make the best of it. The line of command in civil and military authority is preserved, and we all pull together to help each other get by. There is no looting, no price gouging, no roving gangs trying to assert their authority. In short, we get the Star Trek scenario where something like WW3 makes us ban war and come to our collective senses.

But let’s not talk about fiction. Let’s talk about real situations. On September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks brought down two enormous office buildings in New York City, collapsed part of the Pentagon just outside Washington, DC, and brought down a plane in Pennsylvania. The Federal Aviation Administration ordered an immediate grounding of all flights over the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico. Communities with airports had to suddenly deal with a mass of passengers that landed and another mass that couldn’t leave. Yet we didn’t hear of any kinds of riots at airports. We all kind of knew that there was something going on that was more important than us getting somewhere on a schedule.

In New York City, all available first responders headed to the site of the World Trace Center towers to try and help survivors of the collapses. This included policemen and, eventually, national guardsmen. And yet crime in the city actually declined despite the fact that most of the police departments were involved in the rescue efforts. Well, either it truly declined or the victims of the crimes didn’t deem it necessary (or just plain couldn’t) report the crimes in light of what was going on. All in all, during the attacks of September 11, we all stuck together.

Yet the attacks were not a disaster in that basic infrastructure was kept intact. The chain of command in civil and military authority was not broken. Hospitals were open for business, electricity flowed freely, and the confusion and commotion was limited to only those places where planes went down. For an example where everything collapsed, let’s look at Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Now, that was a mess. Even with days of advance notice, very few people of New Orleans heeded the advice to evacuate. Few, relatively speaking. There were still enough people who tried to leave and ended up jamming the highways and roads leading out of the city. In my opinion, the leadership of the city made a big mistake in having people cram into the football stadium as well. You just can’t put that many people in an enclosed space like that without supplies and without authorities to manage the situation. But that’s neither here or there.

We all saw what happened. The water levels rose and inundated neighborhoods. Those who stayed had a collapse of infrastructure seen only before in places outside of the United States. There was looting. There were people in mortal danger not only from the storm but from each other. It was utter chaos. The kicker was that the government at all three levels failed to be prepared and respond appropriately, even with days of warning of the impending disaster.

So what’s going to happen next time the chips are down? Because there will be a next time.

I write this because this is where “The Poxes” is heading. There is an impending disaster coming to that universe because of the events in the first two chapters. Our hero will find himself in a losing fight against not only the interests of the anti-vaccine people who are pushing to do away with all vaccines, but there are other forces at play in his town. And so, I intend to analyze what happens when the chips are down. Who will step up to the fight?

Erase and Rewind, ‘Cause I’ve Been Changing My Mind

I’ve decided to reboot “The Poxes”. That’s all. Move along…

Oh, you want more?

Okay, so the story that I originally had in mind, like any good story in my head, began to mutate and kind of got away from me. I’ve decided to re-boot the story and give the antagonist (we all know who that is) a little bit of a more subtle role. No use wasting all his talents on chasing after the young epidemiologist when there are other things that can keep the young epidemiologist out of the way for the antagonist’s ultimate plan.

Of course, I’ll have to stick to the premise that the event on “Vaccination Day” led to the collapse of the US immunization program, a wet dream of sorts of many an anti-vaxer, like the guy who said this:

“With less than a half-dozen full-time activists, annual budgets of six figures or less, and umpteen thousand courageous, undaunted, and selfless volunteer parents, our community, held together with duct tape and bailing wire, is in the early to middle stages of bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees.”

Ah, the gift that keeps on giving. You thought the rogue epidemiologist was going to be the main antagonist? Not if real life has the kinds of villains that the above-quoted person can be.

So look for the reboot some time later this Spring.

Tired of all the BS? Here, have some more!

FYI: I’m working on part three of The Poxes. It’s just a little hard to write it out because it’s all about the testimony given by people at the Congressional hearings in that little fictional universe. So bare with me, all three of you.

Now, here’s a show that I watched back when it was originally aired, and I think it should be aired over and over again – minus the bad words (who fucking needs that?). It’s Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit!” a show about looking at things with a skeptical eye and not believing everything you’re told. This particular episode is about vaccines, and it is awesome.
Pay special attention to how they show you what “1 in a million” means when it comes to vaccinations and side-effects, and listen closely to the nuttiness presented by the anti-vaccine people being interviewed.